The Reference Desk | Comparing Bible Translations - Lifeway Women

The majority of Bible translations are categorized by their translation philosophy, either being more formal (word-for-word) or more dynamic (thought-for-thought) in translation. There are pros and cons to each of […]

9/22/2021 11:00:00 PM

How do you understand and choose between Bible translations? We partnered with the Bible and Reference Team at Lifeway to break down the key points of the most popular English translations so you can find the Bible that is right for you.

The majority of Bible translations are categorized by their translation philosophy, either being more formal (word-for-word) or more dynamic (thought-for-thought) in translation. There are pros and cons to each of […]

In-depth footnotesDue to literal word-for-word translation from Greek and Hebrew, some phrases don’t flow as smoothly in English as other translations.King James Version (KJV)“The King James Version is a translation named after King James I of England who commissioned the new English Bible translation in 1604 King James ‘authorized’ the new translation to be read in churches in England and beyond after it was first published in 1611. Later known as the ‘Authorized Version’ in 1814, the King James Version became a standard among English-speaking Christians. The King James Version is considered one of the most accurate English translations in existence. A skilled committee of 54 translators worked for 7 years to carefully complete the King James translation project” (excerpt from

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Key pointsOne of the oldest English translationsIncludes poetic language Number two best-selling Bible in 20217While it is one of the oldest English translations, scholars debate on the accuracy due to the political motivations of King James to publish this Bible and diminish the use of the Geneva Bible, the most widely distributed Bible at the time. 

Uses archaic language that carries different meanings todayNew King James Version (NKJV)“The NKJV preserves the authority and accuracy, as well as the rhythm and beauty, of the original King James Version while making it understandable to current readers. The result is a Bible translation, scrupulously faithful to the original, yet truly updated to enhance its clarity and readability.”

8 Key pointsUpdated some of the traditional language in the KJV translation to make the text more readableNumber six best-selling Bible in 20219Some phrasing carried over from KJV, making certain phrases still more archaicNew Living Translation (NLT)

“The New Living Translation combines the latest biblical scholarship with a clear, dynamic writing style that communicates God’s Word powerfully to all who hear and read it. It renders the message of the original texts of Scripture into clear, contemporary English that was written to be read aloud. With a focus on clarity, The New Living Translation invites readers to go deeper into the biblical text to discover God’s story for their lives and the world.”

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